"World is failing young women at risk from HIV"

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Fanaye Hailu with her daughter Betty, eight, who was born HIV-free. Fanaye says that pregnant women should get tested for the disease, as it can save the lives of mother and baby. Photo: UNAIDS

The fact that there's much more help available for HIV sufferers is a global health success story, but it shouldn’t hide the fact that young women are being left behind in the fight against the disease.

That message from UNAIDS comes as the agency releases new data showing how girls' transition to womanhood is a particularly dangerous time, particularly in southern African nations.

Daniel Johnson has more.

Today, more than 18 million people with HIV have access to life-saving medicines, including more than 900,000 children – double the number five years ago.

This progress is remarkable, UNAIDS says, adding that between 2005 and 2015, AIDS-related deaths have fallen by 45 per cent, to 1.1 million.

But it doesn't hide the fact that 7,500 young women were infected with HIV every week in 2015, and it's evidence that the world is failing them, UNAIDS says.

Data from the agency reveals that in sub-Saharan Africa, girls aged between 15 and 19 years old accounted for nine in 10 of all new HIV infections.

The evidence shows that in many cases adult men were to blame, and UNAIDs says that this is because they are far less likely to get themselves checked for the disease, or access treatment.

In South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal, for instance, less than three in 10 men knew their HIV status in 2015, and only one in 20 was on treatment.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 1'06"


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